Fourth seed Garbine Muguruza and sixth seed Simona Halep both reached the last 16 of the French Open on Friday but in contrasting fashions.
With the early exits of Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber and the powerful Victoria Azarenka, the Spaniard and the Romanian are seen as the biggest threats to Serena Williams’ bid for a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title.
Williams is in the other half of the draw and has reached the third round without dropping a set.
The 22-year-old Venezuela-born Muguruza, who lost last year’s Wimbledon final to Williams, easily saw off the challenge of Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer 6-3, 6-0, winning nine games in a row from 3-3 in the first set.
“I did play very well. I wanted so much to win this match,” she said. “I am really motivated at Roland Garros and I hope I can continue like this.”
Halep, a losing finalist to Maria Sharapova in Paris two years ago, was stretched by 18-year-old US-based Japanese player Naomi Osaka before pulling through 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
“It was a very tough match. She played unbelievable and she is very young and talented,” she said.
“I think it was a little bit of mental and a little bit of experience too. I did well in the end and I am happy I can play again the fourth round here.”
She will next play the winner of the tie between last year’s runner-up Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic and former US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia.
Muguruza will play the winner of the match between 2009 Paris champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and her fellow Russian opponent Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Top seed and defending champion Williams plays her third round match on Saturday against former junior champion Kristina Mladenovic of France.